“Social capital for communities refers to establishing trust-based networks. That means not just establishing strong connections, but reinforcing the quality of those relationships among families, communities and organizations. This is that important, underlying ingredient that determines healthy families and communities. Using four cities as case studies, this report reflects the various aspects of social capital as it pertains to immigrant neighborhoods and communities of color, showing ways that social capital can help or hinder community development.” – Annie E. Casey Foundation
In an exhaustive policy paper released in 2004, the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) examines the role of social capital in establishing thriving and resilient communities. Their detailed insight on how social capital is distributed and who is allowed access to that capital may offer a moment of reflective examination in how we choose to deliver social services in a more open future. Much of our social capital is confined to a series of gatekeepers in the public and private sector who leverage critical mass and scale to build their resources and cultivate relationships with others who have access to more resources.
AECF offers a thoroughly researched study of the manner in which the different forms of social capital (closed, bridging, and linking) are used by grassroots, nonprofit, and government agencies to determine how services reach their recipients. While it should be a straightforward and democratic process that a person who meets established criteria and seeks service should be granted access, the research and experience proves a far more complex web to negotiate. The ability of clients to access social capital may be influenced by a social, racial or cultural bias. This policy document may be paired with “Co-production: A Manifesto for growing the core economy” as a sustainable and impactful solution to reducing friction in the delivery of social services while activating the human capital assets already present within those communities.
How can we develop a more equitable system for the delivery of social services? Would direct delivery of some services improve throughput? How might a skills market place which encourages neighbor to neighbor connection create additional infrastructure across which social capital can flow more quickly to areas where it is needed? Read the policy paper at the link below on for background on how our approach to social capital may be hindering our ability to meet community needs.
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